Acer Swift 3 review

Don’t be deceived – this laptop is better than it looks

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Great Value

Our Verdict

Focused on delivering the best performance for the lowest price, the worst part about the Acer Swift 3 is that all of its best qualities may very well go unnoticed.

For

  • Powerful for the price
  • Stellar battery life
  • Plenty of ports
  • Killer keyboard and trackpad

Against

  • Boring looks
  • Down-firing speakers

The Acer Swift 3 is the latest budget laptop from the Taiwanese manufacturer, whose 2017 products covered a $9,000 or £9,000 (around AU$15,120) gaming laptop to the world’s thinnest Ultrabook.

With devices like these, you’d be forgiven for expecting Acer to do the same with the Acer Swift 3. If the Acer Swift 7 is Acer’s svelte flagship, the Acer Swift 3 is a cheaper, more attainable version of that. 

If you’re just looking for a laptop that can get stuff done, without costing too much, the Acer Swift 3 could be the best laptop for you. Yeah, it doesn’t leave much of a first impression, but it does make full use of the 15-inch, Full HD 1080p display, a 0.71-inch frame and 3.53 pounds of heft.

Once you dive beyond the surface, however, the Acer Swift 3 leaves a great impression with powerful components that feel right at home inside of the all-aluminum chassis.

Spec sheet

Here is the Acer Swift 3 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 3.1GHz)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB DDR4 SDRAM
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) ComfyView IPS
Storage: 256GB SSD
Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 1 x HDMI, headset jack, SD card slot
Connectivity: 802.11ac wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.0
Camera: 720p HD webcam
Weight: 3.53 pounds (1.6kg)
Size: 13.31 x 9.21 x 0.71 inches (33.81 x 23.39 x 1.8cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability

Like most laptops, the Acer Swift 3 comes in a number of different variations, each complete with their own unique specifications and pricing.

In the US, beyond the many Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that are sure to surface soon, the Acer Swift 3 starts at a modest $499 in the US, with a similar model found in the UK for £699 and in Australia for AU$999. Here in the US, the entry-level Ultrabook will get you an Intel Core i3-7100U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. In the UK, you’ll get a different setup – starting off with 8GB of DDR4 instead. It’s a great deal, and will get better once we start seeing the Black Friday laptop deals.

However, if you really want to kit the Acer Swift 3 out, the top-end model will set you back $849 in the US, but caps out at £749 and AU$1,399 in the UK and Australia, respectively,. That’s mostly due to the most Powerful Acer Swift 3 taking advantage of a powerful Intel Core i7 in the US, as opposed to the UK’s Intel Core i5 CPU. The only other difference is the amount of SSD storage, which is just 256GB in the UK, rather than the 512GB available to Americans.

The latter is the Acer Swift 3 we were sent for review. For $599, US readers can pick up the exact same model as the configuration we tested. Keep in mind, though, you’re stuck with the 1080p display, so if you’re on the lookout for a 4K screen, you’ll have to keep looking.

Design and features

To be frank, the Acer Swift 3’s looks are arguably its weakest point. Although it can be had in a sleeker gold or black finish in the US, or even a pink one in the UK, the unit we were sent for review appears to be the most drab of the bunch. 

Sure, it has this angled hinge embroidered by the word ‘SWIFT’ in a way that resembles the metallic badge worn by a Volvo, but the Acer Swift 3 fails to stand out from rivals like the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin and the Asus ZenBook Flip, aside from lacking the 2-in-1 capabilities that make those two laptops more worth your while.

Still, what the Acer Swift 3 lacks in those coffee shop aesthetics, it makes up for in comfort and practicality. The first thing we noticed when propping it up alongside a MacBook was just how roomy the trackpad is. Pair that with the OK screen resolution and, finally, we finally have a Windows 10 laptop that doesn’t give you a headache when controlling your cursor.

One of the most commendable choices made in the production of the Acer Swift 3, is the inclusion of legacy ports – the most notable of which are two USB 3.0 connections and an SD card slot. Even so, laptop futurists don’t need to worry, as there’s still a single USB 3.1 Type-C port sitting snugly on the left side of the machine.

Also, the keyboard – it feels way better than Apple’s 12-inch clamshell of yesteryear, and is thankfully complemented by nifty backlighting (of which there are four levels, including “off”). 

You’ll notice, too, that beneath the directional keys is a pint-sized fingerprint reader, designed to be used in conjunction with Microsoft’s Windows Hello login feature. Although it didn’t work flawlessly on the first go, it’s still a worthwhile addition once you get used to how its slimline rectangular shape doesn’t quite match up with that of your digits.

First reviewed November 2017

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